Tips for Avoiding Temptation at Holiday Parties

Golden streamers with sparkling glitterThe holiday season is filled with social activities, from family dinners to parties with friends and coworkers. These celebrations often center around over-indulgence, be it in food or alcohol. In fact, in a 2012 American Alcohol Consumption Study conducted by Gateway Treatment Centers, it was found that 51% of adults drink alcohol due to “celebrations, special events, and holidays.” For someone in recovery, this over-indulgent atmosphere can make holiday parties difficult to navigate.

There can be anxiety over the temptation of easily accessible alcohol, as well as over the perceived judgment of others if you don’t partake in drinking. Depending on your support system and where you are in your recovery, it may be easier to skip the parties. But if you want to attend a party, there are a few things you can do to help you avoid temptation and lessen your nerves.

Bring a sober friend. It can be easier to avoid alcohol if you are not the only one abstaining at the party. Bring someone else with you who will stay by your side and ensure you have a good time without using drugs or alcohol.

Prepare your response for turning down offered drinks. Do not fear that attending a holiday party means that you will be offered drink after drink. But if the fear of that happening is keeping you from attending, prepare your response ahead of time. If you are comfortable mentioning that you are in recovery, you can use that to turn down offered alcoholic drinks. But if you are not, don’t stress. There can be many reasons someone may turn down a drink, such as not liking the taste or having to drive, and you can use any of these excuses. Having your excuse in mind before you go can help relieve any anxiety and prepare you to remain alcohol free throughout the party.

Only stay as long as you are comfortable. Often we are invited to holiday parties that we may feel obligated to go to. But just because you show up doesn’t mean you need to stay very long. If the party is too overwhelming, leave early.

Remember that everyone is preoccupied with themselves, not you. You may feel like you are the only one not drinking, and therefore that everyone is watching and judging you. But know that most people are so busy with their own drinking that they aren’t keeping track of what you are, or are not, consuming.

Serve yourself. If you are worried about others asking you to consume alcohol, an easy way around it is to serve yourself a nonalcoholic drink. When you get to the party, grab water or pop, or bring your own, and keep it in your hand. It will curb drink offers from other people since you already have something to drink. Also, you don’t have to worry about someone adding alcohol to your drink if you get it yourself.

Remember that if temptation becomes too much, you can always rely on your support network or aftercare program. By making plans before a party or following some of the above tips, you can mitigate anxiety and navigate holiday parties without using drugs or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol, visit RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) for information about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options.

Entering Treatment around the Holidays

Champagner on Glass Table with Bokeh backgroundWhen the holidays roll around, people often put things on hold, including work projects, fitness goals, home-improvement undertakings, and much more. Unfortunately, people struggling with substance abuse disorders may allow their addiction to reach this same priority, with intentions to “deal with it” after the holiday chaos has passed. But why wait until the new year to make long overdue changes?

The upsides to treatment during the holidays may take you by surprise. Those in need of treatment may find that fitting a program into their schedule is actually easier in the months of November and December due to the fact that employers regularly foresee absences during these slow business months. Additionally, treatment may be easier to finance, as many people have already met their insurance deductibles.

The most noteworthy benefit of holiday treatment, however, is avoiding the possibility of substance abuse intensifying. The stress of family obligations, gift buying, and holiday celebrations can increase the desires of those struggling to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. Also, many holiday parties revolve around drinking alcohol, sometimes excessively in the form of binge drinking.

It can be dangerous to delay treatment, too. There is a higher incidence of drunk driving arrests, fatal accidents, and drug overdoses during the holiday season. Seeking treatment can keep you or your loved one safe, as well as offer the opportunity to start a new year off in recovery. Going to treatment during the holidays means starting the new year already having achieved some important goals. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to get well, you or your loved one will already have strategies and plans in place.

The sooner treatment is considered, the better. You can learn more about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options at RecoverGateway.org or by calling Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers for a confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Holiday Reminder: Alcohol Weakens Willpower, Lowers Metabolism

alcohol nutrition, holiday drinking, gateway alcohol and drug treatment centersIn honor of National Nutrition Month in November, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment points out to dieters and weight-conscious warriors that alcohol consumption not only significantly increases caloric intake and diminishes will power, it also grinds your metabolism to a screeching halt.

Most people don’t realize drinking alcohol temporarily prevents the body from burning fat. Since the human body is unable to store calories consumed from alcohol the way it does calories taken in from food, drinking causes the metabolic system to stop whatever it’s doing in order to eliminate alcohol-laden libations from the body.

“Imagine there’s a pause button that’s linked to your metabolism, which is pushed whenever alcohol is consumed. Calories consumed earlier in the day are set aside or stored. Since alcohol requires undivided attention, it slows metabolism and limits the body’s ability to burn fat,” explains Dr. John Larson, Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Practically twice as calorie-laden as carbohydrates or proteins, alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram. While it may be tempting to conveniently ignore calories consumed from alcohol in daily goal trackers, being honest may help encourage more conscientious choices in the future.

Have you ever realized when you drink alcohol you are hungrier, and perhaps your insatiable appetite even stretches into the following day? Studies have shown in the short term, alcohol stimulates food intake and can increase feelings of hunger. Consider these statistics:

  • When alcohol is consumed before a meal a person generally consumes 20% more calories from food during the meal. Plus, when you add in the calories consumed from alcohol during a meal, average caloric increase jumps to 33%.
  • A study of more than 3,000 people showed consuming elevated amounts of alcohol is associated with abdominal obesity in men—aka the dreaded “beer belly.”

Clearly, having your judgment impaired with a stimulated appetite is a recipe for failure if you are trying to maintain weight or follow a weight-loss plan. Here are some tips to limit your calorie intake when consuming alcohol:

  • Drink as much water as possible.  Try to have two drinks of water for every one drink of alcohol.
  • Limit alcohol calories by choosing drinks containing less alcohol and a limited amount of sweetened beverages; try flavored seltzers or coconut water to save calories.
  • Select light versions whenever possible. “Light” means fewer calories, not calorie- or alcohol-free, so you will still need to limit your intake.
  • Always have food in your stomach before you have a drink so you don’t overindulge on salty snacks and other diet pitfalls.
  • Learn to sip your drink to make it last longer.
  • Use lots of ice because it makes your drink seem bigger without adding actual calories.
  • If you have to choose between fruit juice and soda in a mixer, choose fruit juice.
  • Avoid the salty snacks. They’ll make you want to drink more.

Keep in mind, to avoid health risks and weight gain, you should follow USDA moderate drinking guidelines—one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.  If someone you care about has a drinking problem, Gateway can help. Call  877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org to learn about our free, confidential consultation.

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